Contraband. This movie is pretty much just like every other Mark Wahlberg movie in the last five or six years (aside from The Happening and The Other Guys with Will Ferrell). But I know that people love those movies, so maybe this is right up your alley. If you’re a fan of The Departed, Four Brothers, Shooter or even The Italian Job, you’ll likely enjoy this latest outing.
Mark Wahlberg stars as an ex-smuggler who is trying to have a legitimate career. When he got married (to Kate Beckinsale), her younger brother stepped in and started smuggling. Well, things have gone sideways and the brother (Caleb Jones, last seen as Banshee in X-Men: First Class) is in deep trouble. He lost a shipment of drugs and now the dealer (Giovanni Ribisi) is out to get him. To help make things right, Wahlberg decides to get back into the game for one last job to help save his brother-in-law. Ben Foster (Alpha Dog, X-Men: The Last Stand, 30 Days of Night) is around and does some things.
So what works?
Mark Wahlberg is a badass, just like always. You can expect plenty of headbutts and bashing people’s heads into countertops. The action is pretty spot-on and visceral. There’s one intense shootout scene that had me (literally) on the edge of my seat.
The story was engaging. It was simple enough to follow, though there were some characters that I couldn’t quite understand who they were. It felt like Wahlberg’s character just couldn’t get a break, so it definitely had you rooting for him.
Giovanni Ribisi makes a very convincing bad guy. I remember the first time I saw him. It was an episode of The X-Files where a teenage kid can control lightning. That was him. Jack Black was also in that episode, but got fried before the opening credits even rolled. Ribisi does this weird accent in this film, but it makes him come off as even more of a sleaze.
What doesn’t work?
I don’t have any serious complaints but don’t expect greatness from this movie. There are some cool fight scenes, a few shootouts, and a lot of expletives. But there’s nothing new here. No one really stretches their acting chops (except maybe Foster and Beckinsale, for a few emotional scenes).
Overall… This movie knows what it is and what its’ viewers will enjoy. Don’t expect any Oscar nominations but you can expect a fun and thrilling hour and a half.